Ransomware has swept the headlines lately as among the most dangerous cyber threats, for good reason. Successful ransomware attacks like WannaCry affected tens of thousands of organizations throughout the world, bringing some service businesses in 150 countries nearly to a halt, doing billions of dollars in global damage because of data loss.
While we hear about ransomware from the news as it does such catastrophic harm, we do not actually hear about Ransomware that impacts human users and personal computers. That is not to say it does not happen, because it does, only on a smaller scale. Individuals may get caught in the crossfire, like downloading infected email attachments, but cybercriminals really need to send their payload to business owners, to make the most of the ransom profit.
But whether you are a business owner or simply an individual home computer user, Ransomware is a threat, and you will need to understand how to prevent it. For individual users, prevention is somewhat easy as you only have to worry about your own personal computer habits. For business owners, it becomes a little complicated as you will need to track the habits of your employees and notify them of preventing Ransomware strikes.
This is the reason Ransomware is much more effective when it targets businesses because the quantity of actors in the situation is raised. All it takes is 1 employee falling for a phishing email, or downloading an infected program without consent, to potentially infect the whole company network.
So in this report, we’re going to explore a few important tips and guidelines for preventing Ransomware, which may be applied to both individuals and business owners (and their workers).
Always keep antivirus software and operating system security upgraded
Strong antivirus protection is a crucial portion of security against Ransomware (check out testimonials), particularly antivirus software that provides a type of sandbox environment for launch newly installed programs. Since Ransomware attempts to instantly encrypt documents, antivirus software that launches an infected program in a safe digital sandbox environment won’t permit those system modifications to really take place.
Together with your antivirus software, you should always keep your operating system updated with the latest security patches. In actuality, the principal reason ransomware strikes like WannaCry were so powerful, was in part because Microsoft had already released an update to repair the security hole that WannaCry exploited, yet many businesses across the world didn’t apply the upgrade.
Never download suspicious email attachments
This ought to be obvious, but it still occurs nearly all of the time. You might get an email that seems to be from your bank, or the government tax agency, or some other sort of official business. The email will typically contain an attachment such as a Word Document, .PDF document, or other kinds of document typically used for business.
When you download and open the attachment, it might say something like “Please enable macros when you have problems viewing this document”, followed by a series of characters to give the false impression of being’encrypted’.
When you enable macros from the file, it will actually convert the file into a script or executable program that proceeds to download and then run the ransomware in your computer, encrypting all of your documents. So as a general guideline, never download attachments from email addresses that you do not recognize, and never follow the directions in strange documents.
If you can’t be 100% certain whether an email is authentic, try copying portions of the email text to Google, to see if other internet users have reported similar mails. Many ransomware strikes use pretty much the identical email message that gets sent to tens of thousands of individuals.
If nothing pops up in search results, but you are still unsure, try to validate the email address through communication. Ask for any type of evidence you can concerning the authenticity of the email. But if you are already unsure, you should probably go with your gut instinct.
Another aspect to consider is using a powerful ad-blocker extension since malvertising is a true thing. Cybercriminals can inject banner advertisements with malicious scripts which also exploit security holes on your browser. Yes, we’re living in an era where you are able to catch a virus from banner ads, this is something which people will need to understand.
Keep external backups of your system
Many security specialists keeping regular backups of your system, but when it comes to ransomware, that simply is not good enough. Since ransomware can encrypt your whole drive, including the MBC (Master Boot Record), which means ransomware may also fully encrypt or even erase your locally saved copies.
This is the reason you will need to keep backups on an external drive, like a USB drive. And you will need to keep this external drive disconnected from your computer at all times so that a virus never has an opportunity to spread to it. Many viruses attach themselves to some external forces they find, to infect any other computers that the drives are plugged into.
Among the best defenses against Ransomware or some other cybersecurity threats is to remain informed of the latest methods cybercriminals are using to infect computers. By reading this report, you have increased your understanding and learned a couple of things — but your learning should not stop here. You want to be constantly mindful, as new threats arise daily.
If you are a business owner, understanding the most recent cybersecurity threats will let you spread the information amongst your employees, and communicate and strategize better with your IT department on tackling threats.